Ravichandran Ashwin, who was India’s most effective bowler on Day 1 in Centurian, has stated that his county stint with Worcester has helped him to bowl on foreign pitches. The spinner also revealed India’s initial plan to go with an all-seam attack before the pitch made them change their mind.
India were surprised to get a savior in spinner Ashwin on the first day at Centurion as all their fast bowlers failed to make an impact in the initial stages. The off-break bowler scalped important wickets of openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram, and later Quinton de Kock to prevent South Africa from getting a big score on the first day.
The amount of assistance he got on the Centurion pitch was shocking even for the South African batsman. However, the bowler has credited much of the success on this track to his English county stint last year, where he had played immediately after India’s tour of Sri Lanka.
“I think my experience of going to England and playing helped because this has been a sort of wicket which you get there especially where I played, at New Road, where it's pretty flat. One ball jumps occasionally and goes flat for a pretty long time. My first-class teammates would advise that I have to develop a lot of patience and hearing those things from them was definitely a reality check for me,” said Ashwin as quoted by PTI.
Ashwin had come under a lot of criticism when India travelled South Africa back in 2013 and India had failed to win the Johannesburg Test from an advantageous position on day five after Ashwin failed to get the wickets. Though he didn’t dwell much on that, the bowler was quick to state that he kept India in the game in Centurion.
"I like to think I have kept us in the game. It could have so easily been a game where they could have run away with it after the second session. I like to believe I was just dogged enough. "I play (only) Test cricket now and I get a lot of break in between. So might as well be ready when I get an opportunity. So, there is no reason to unfasten the seat belt, you are always on,” said Ashwin.
Though Virat Kohli and management have got a lot of stick for benching Bhuvneshwar Kumar in favour of Ishant Sharma, following a poor Day 1 for the fast bowlers in Centurion, Ashwin believes that SuperSport Park pitch had hardly anything for the pace bowlers anyway.
“There was hardly anything for the fast bowlers at all. If at all there was something, we were trying to get some reverse swing going and try and probably get a few catches in front of the wicket,” said Ashwin.
The Indian pace bowlers commanded proceedings in the first Test despite India succumbing to a narrow 72-run defeat. It was enough for the experts to suggest that India should rather go with all pacers in the remaining games leaving out the spinners. Ashwin reveals that the management had a similar thought in mind until they had a closer look at the Centurion pitch before the second Test.
“Two days from the game it looked like we are going to play an all-seam attack. And then when we walked into the ground yesterday, it was white in colour and the grass was coming off. All of a sudden I really had to pull myself back and think I am in the game now. Today morning when we came to the ground, it looked like a wicket that was really flat and had to have a spinner in the game," Ashwin said.